It's estimated that a third of all kids in the U-S are overweight, both from an unhealthful diet and insufficient exercise. Your child establishes eating habits in infancy, and obesity (oh-BEE-suh-tee) can lead to health problems, both in childhood and later on. Children aren't born with a taste for salt or fats or sugary foods, but they may acquire a taste for them, if that's what they're fed. Many prepared and processed foods unfortunately have a high sugar and salt content, so it's important to read labels. Billions of dollars are spent in advertising foods that aren't healthful for kids. It's also sometimes difficult to resist the convenience of fast-food restaurants, especially those that cater to kids. However, it's important for you to model healthful eating habits and set the example, as well, by being physically active. Resist your child's nagging you to purchase or prepare foods that are unhealthful. Keep in mind that in addition to the physical and health problems that result when a child or adolescent is overweight, he or she also may be subjected to teasing or social isolation from peers. Being overweight in childhood can lead to health problems later in life, including high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, diabetes, and possibly cancer. An obese child needs your support and to be taught how to eat properly for life, not just be put on a diet. The child's physical and emotional health depend on it!
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